Mediation Services

As family business mediators, we address both emotional and financial conflict, applying the skills of both a professional psychologist and a seasoned business lawyer. We believe that this interdisciplinary approach gives the parties the best chance of avoiding the deepening conflict that fosters and fuels litigation.

The Emotionality of Family Business Conflicts:

We have had continued success in mediating family business conflicts, a rigorous training ground for business mediation since the often intense emotions in family business conflicts can bring the situation to the edge of chaos. Conflicts in family businesses accelerate quickly. When a frustrated family member contacts an attorney, other family members, angry and disappointed that the first family member has gone outside of the family system to solve the problem, will contact their own attorneys. Once everyone has "lawyered up," the situation can easily spin out of control. Often driven by emotion, one or more of the parties will turn to the courts to decide, in full view of the public, who is right or wrong on issues that often have nothing to do with emotion. The future and the public image of the family business are no longer in the family's control, and the litigation process takes on a life of its own.  

What Triggers the Escalation of Family Business Conflict?

In our experience, it is the absence of a clear authority in the family system. Many family businesses come to us after the death or departure of a patriarch, matriarch, or comparable authority figure. The historical family conflict resolution method was simple: the authority figure ended disputes by simply declaring who was right and who was wrong, often without addressing the underlying emotional issues. After that authority figures dies or departs, the lid is off the pressure cooker of family conflict, but no one is there to resolve it—hence, the inclination to turn to the “authority” of the courts to decide.

The Drawbacks of Family Business Litigation:

Unfortunately, lawyers and courts are trained to address legal and financial issues, not feelings. While lawyers and courts spend time and money on legal and financial "rights and wrongs," the expense and delay of litigation only exacerbate hard feelings and make the conflict harder to resolve than before.  

At some point the litigation ends, but rarely does the family feel that the result was worth the time, money, and damage to family relations that it took to get there. At best, the court’s decision will resemble what the family could have figured out on its own, through mediation. At worst, the court will impose an extreme outcome, with a clear winner and a clear loser, with the loser's resentment guaranteed to make resolution of future family conflicts even more challenging. Even the winners are losers in family business litigation.

The Advantages of Mediation:

By contrast, our mediation technique manages emotions and places settlement of legal and business differences at center stage. Unlike litigation, mediation is private and confidential, providing the parties with a safe environment, both emotionally and financially, in which they are free to express their thoughts, ideas and feelings in a way that sheds light on what each party really wants. The psychologist handles any emotions that may surface, while the seasoned business lawyer encourages the parties to find legal and business solutions that are workable and durable. We often discover that people are less interested in short-term economic gain than in fairness, openness, negotiation, and family harmony that may well lead to more wealth for everyone over the long term. 

This safe, problem-solving atmosphere allows the process to move as quickly as the parties are willing to move and generally results in a much faster and more cost-effective outcome than any alternative, whether it be suppressed dysfunction or outright litigation.

Family business mediation is not simply an expense; it is an investment, Our method of mediation, compared with the many disadvantages of litigation or dysfunction, make us confident in saying that the family's investment will more than pay for itself.

Click here to read our Mediation and Confidentiality Agreement.

Back to Top